Tuesday, December 16, 2008

He's DAAANNNGGGG Good!!!!!

In an effort to keep everyone up on the career side of my blog, I thought I would share God's latest effort to let me know everything is on the right track.

My oldest has decided she wants to play club volleyball this spring, so away she went on Saturday to club tryouts. Saturday night when we were all back together, she let us know that she was the ONLY 18 year old to show up for tryouts. I'm thinking, "This can't be very good. How's it going to work out?" So I decided to go with her on Sunday for part two of tryouts. I had thought about calling the director and asking if we even needed to bother to show up, but I didn't. We just went.

Sure enough, we got there and she was still the only 18. We had to provide some paperwork, so as I handed it to the director, I asked if she even wanted it. She took it and said, "We have a plan."

Hmmmm.....I thought. Wonder what this could be? Combine Erika with a younger group and make them all play up? There I was trying to help God get things figured out. When will I learn?

About halfway through tryouts, this really nice looking dark headed guy showed up. He looked familiar, but I couldn't quite place him. I wondered what he was there for? Could he be one of the coaches evaluating players? A little while later, I looked up and he appeared to be walking toward me. It was a bit intimidating. I looked around to see if there was anyone else in the vicinity toward whom he could possibly be walking. Nope. I was it. Just me. So I put on my most cordial face, stuck out my hand for the manliest handshake I could muster, and met his greeting.

It seems he was from another volleyball club in town. He and "our director" are friends, so she very graciously called him to come watch Erika and possibly give her a spot on one of his teams. He was to call us back and let us know how it would all work out. He did, and Erika has a team tryout with them this week.

Last night while freezing my fingers off feeding and watering my plethera of livestock, I received a phone call from the other half of our "new" volleyball club. In the process of that conversation about Erika's participation on one of their teams, I revealed my current endeavor of attending massage therapy school. Ten minutes later, he called back, this time to offer to let me schedule massage sessions during team practices since many parents and other family members are often stuck at their gym for several hours.

I was floored in my awe. I cannot charge for massages that I give while in school, yet I have to get some "practicum" massages done outside of class. By taking advantage of his offer, I can create a clientele in the Amarillo area. Also, some of their players are traveling all the way from Lubbock to play with them, so there is also a possibility of establishing a clientele in Lubbock as well. My speciality is sports massage, so what a great opportunity to get to the heart of my desired clientele. The club director gets a bonus in that he can offer his parents some value added for their choice to participate in his program. It's a classic Steven Covey Win-Win for everyone.

I had mentioned in earlier posts here and here how God has revealed to me through a series of dreams that He is removing everything that seems to be shaky ground about my transitioning into a new career. I stand in total awe of His amazing ability to do exactly what He said He would do. I know He has a plan for the next phase of my life and that I can relax and enjoy the ride into that next chapter. When the time is perfect, He will reveal to me each part, each phase, each doorway through which I get to walk. How cool!!!

Now, God, I'm ready for you to reveal to us exactly how we are going to pay for Erika to participate in the club ball. It ain't cheap! And yet, I know this is from you, and I know you have a plan. I'll be waiting to see what you reveal to us.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Sports Parents and School Administrators

This is probably going to be one of the touchiest blog posts I've written so far. When it comes to youth and teenage sports, most of the adults involved are overly sensitive. Parents expect their children to be given a fair shake and a certain level of protection. School administrators want everyone to be nice and cheer but not gripe. Officials want to call the game, get their paycheck, and get out the door without being lynched. Everyone has a legitimate reason to be on high alert in the youth sports environment.

Our local parents and school administration are no exception, and if anything, we may be in a heightened state of alert because of the investment of time and energy some of our families have put into their respective sports. As with any difficult situation, there are ALWAYS two sides. Sometimes the sides are unable or unwilling to see things from the other point of view. My intention is to provide some perspective as to what I see as being both sides of the local sports parent issue. I'm probably also subjecting myself to some type of self-correction by writing this since we tend to see the faults in others that are most glaring in our own lives.

Back in the day (1983), a teenage girl hit the basketball court and played hard for four quarters. Her greatest concern for her personal safety was a bad landing following a rebound that resulted in a sprained ankle, someone's boney rear end blocking her out a little too efficiently, or the rare but not unheard of blown knee, which was usually the result of a pivot gone bad rather than the modern day football tackle seen on basketball courts across America. Physical contact wasn't tolerated by refs. There was no grabbing of the shirt, no reaching to knock the ball out of your opponent's hands, and even the cleanest of blocked shots was probably going to land you a foul. Basketball was basically a non-contact sport.

At that time, the majority of parents didn't feel qualified, nor did they feel the need to coach from the bleachers or scream obscenities at the refs. Don't get me wrong. There were some, and I could probably name names from the mid 1980's of our local poster parents for bad sports fan behavior. However, those were few and farther between than they are today.

My parents were great, and yet I didn't realize how great they were until I started noticing how I was acting toward my daughter. My parents only came to home games. It was rare that they traveled to an out of town game unless it was some place within a 30 minute drive. During the game, I never heard my parents yell or try to tell me what I should be doing. They clapped when something went well, and for the most part, I think they sat quietly and observed during the less than pleasant times. After the game, they would comment on the things I did right. I don't remember a single time that negative feedback was given about my performance. The closest thing to a negative was an occasional, "It was a tough game, wasn't it?"

That kind of parent behavior is rare today. Most parents have invested extraordinary amounts of time, money, and emotion into their kids' sports talents. In a few cases, they may know more about that sport than the person the school hired to coach their child. They are passionate about their kids, passionate about the sport, and their pride is wrapped up in that child's performance for better or worse.

Add to that parent passion the evolving world of sports where keeping the game moving, keeping it exciting, and making sure we stay on schedule has become the driving force for many referees. No referee wants to be known for making a JV game last two hours because s/he called a foul every time a player breathed in another player's direction. Basketball has turned into a full contact sport in many cases, and it is rare that a game goes by that someone doesn't sustain some type of injury. Few things bother a parent more than feeling like the adult in charge is turning a blind eye to their child's need for protection. Mama and Papa Bear instincts are strong, and if the designated adult won't do the job, right or wrong, the Bears feel like they need to step in and fulfill their God-given obligation to protect their offspring.

Recently, all of our local basketball parents received a letter from the athletic director reminding us of UIL rules regarding appropriate fan behavior and the consequences for inappropriate behavior. It was a blanket generic letter. There was no mention of specific incidents or examples of inappropriate behavior on the part of local parents, however, I suspect that a series of highly emotional ball games in which girls were injured and officials were seen as not doing their job adequately was the catalyst. I have missed most of these games because of my school schedule, thus most of my information is second hand from others who were in attendance.

I have been in attendance at a few games this year, and almost every game last year. I have to admit to being uncomfortable with some of the comments coming out of parents' mouths. One recent example was a parent who didn't like the way the referees were calling, so she proceeded to target a player on the other team (calling out her number) and told the girl she had just better watch it. I believe the opponent was assigned to guard her daughter. Her actions as a fan were totally out of line and inappropriate. There is absolutely no excuse for a parents to direct a verbal attack at the other teams' players. I was annoyed with myself for not having the courage to confront her about her actions.

Another incident I witnessed was almost humorous in retrospect, but really ignorant on the part of us parents. I say us, because I was probably involved in it, too. Same ballgame....we all looked up and there were six players on the court for the opposing team. All of the parents start yelling at the refs about the six players. If we had kept our mouths shut and let the ball be thrown in bounds, the other team would have received a technical foul and we would have had a chance to score two free throws. As it happened, our fans drew attention to the problem and the other team was able to remedy the situation before we got to benefit from it. Aren't we brilliant?!

Apparently there have been a number of other situations recently where local parents felt a strong need to help the refs control the game, or help the coach tell the girls what to do. This has earned us a bit of a reputation with other schools, which is sadly a poor reflection on our community. Such reputations make hiring quality coaches difficult and best and impossible at worst. No one in their right mind wants to work in a community where the parents run the show or even attempt to do so.

We all need to work on remembering that our job is to be our kid's cheerleader. Leave the yelling to the coach. If my kid needs to be yelled at, I can personally guarantee the coach will do it. My girl doesn't need me doing it, too. I need to be there to make everything okay. Too many of us have gotten our roles confused. It used to be that the coach did the tail chewing and parents picked up the emotional pieces. Today it seems as if many parents are doing the tail chewing and the coaches are trying to keep the emotional stability of each girl intact in spite of Mom and Dad. I for one have enough on my plate without adding coach and official to my job description. I think the same probably holds true for most everyone else.

With that said, it is time for me to turn the tables a bit. Remember, when it comes to yelling at the refs, that behavior is often triggered by a perception that the adult in charge isn't doing their job and Mama and Papa Bear need to protect their offspring. In most of the games where I have witnessed parents becoming highly vocal toward referees, there was a significant concern for the safety and well-being of the girls.

Parents sign a waiver to allow their child to participate in sports. While injury risk is an accepted part of participation, parents still have a right to expect a reasonable level of adult control. Allowing obviously dangerous and aggressive behaviors to go repeatedly uncalled on the court is not acceptable. Expecting parents to sit quietly while watching such negligence on the part of officials is equally unacceptable. Unfortunately we have entered an era when work ethic is sorely lacking in all career fields. Officiating is no exception. I have seen refs that take their job seriously, work hard four full quarters of a game, control the game, keep kids reasonably safe, and walk away with my praise and admiration. I have also seen refs who showed up, moved as little as possible while on the court, let all sorts of junk slide by unchecked, and then take their full pay for doing a half-bleep job.

I believe it is the obligation of school officials to notice when tensions are beginning to rise and take appropriate action to calm the concerns. If parents are that upset, then school officials should find out why and address the situation. If the game is being poorly controlled, parents have a right to expect school officials to take reasonable action to correct the situation. By the same token, parents need to seek out school officials and calmly address their concerns one-on-one rather than repeatedly screaming across a gym at the refs. If parents feel they can trust school officials to act in the best interest of their children, I believe most incidents of inappropriate fan behavior can be prevented.

It boils down to this: All parties are responsible for ensuring an enjoyable competition. No one group should be held totally accountable for all instances of misbehavior unless the incident is an isolated one. Yes, there is an occasional nutcase in the stands who needs to be shown the way out the door. For the most part, however, anytime there is group frustration, there is reason to look for the catalyst.

Parents, shut up. Show up to cheer on your kid, but quit trying to play coach and referee. If you want those jobs, apply and get hired. Our kids are literally laughing at our behaviors because we are absolutely absurd. Think I'm joking? Ask them. We are an embarrassment to them. Other parents need to buck up and start self-policing. If you see someone acting inappropriately at a game, have the courage to speak with them privately (not in the middle of the stands or in front of their kid) about your concerns. Part of the problem is we are laughing at and accepting each other's stupid behaviors instead of alienating that which is inappropriate.

Coaches, talk to your team parents. We are sometimes too dense to know what you've got going on. Should you have to tell us? Probably not, but we want to be involved, so get us on your side by keeping us in the loop. We've spent years being very instrumental in their sports career. It's hard for us to suddenly cease being in the know. We are the WHY generation, and we want and need to know why we should buy in to your way of doing things. Let us get inside your head just a bit. It makes it easier to walk a mile in your moccasins when things aren't going our way. Who are the parents who've got your back when things are a little rough? They are the ones you've been talking to on a regular basis.

Officials, do your job and do it well every single time. Police yourselves, and get rid of slackers. They give you a bad name. Yes, I know there is a shortage of willing officials, but there wouldn't be if everyone did the job fair and right. We are trusting our kids futures to your decision-making ability and willingness to control chaos. You would want nothing less for your own child. Keep the game in check and reasonably safe for our kids. And another thing....focus on the game and not on the stands. That's what our kids and coaches have to do. Be like a duck and let it roll off. You look just as stupid as the irrational fan when you engage them.

School Administrators, don't be afraid to find out why people are upset before you throw them out of a game. Communication is a good thing. We would like to feel we can trust you with the safety and best interest of our kids, so prove to us that you are worthy. Again, we are the WHY generation. "...because I know best..." doesn't fly with us. You have to honor that if you desire our respect. If you do not, we probably will not be pleasant people to deal with. Remember, they are OUR kids, not yours. We have entrusted them to you. Their presence improves your bottom line in most cases, and we do have choices.

Now, everybody shake hands and be nice.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Roller Coasters and Cool Cars

Twenty years ago, I was on one of the most thrilling, yet nauseating roller coasters the world has ever known. I couldn't wait for it to come in for a landing. I was 20 years old and I was looking for love. I had a good thing going, but he wasn't committing to anything at that point, and I wasn't entirely through looking around at other options. As long as I was around him, my world spun with him as the axis. The problem was he lived in my hometown, and I kept having to leave to go back to the land of teenage college life. I guess you could compare it to test driving a ferrari then driving to the dealership to see what the Ford Focus was like.

He was definitely the ferrari. He was tall, slender, OMG good looking with long flowing brown hair, and AMAZING blue eyes. He played bass guitar in a band that actually did make some money. Words just can't desribe how incredible he looked when he dressed up for a gig. For that matter words can't describe how incredible he looked when wearing cutoffs and no shirt working in his yard. Yes, I said his yard...as in the grass outside of his house, which was the place he went home to after a day at his job, all three of those things being out of the reach of the guys at college.

I ached for his presence, but he wasn't desperate. Time was not that big a deal to him. He was 32 years old when I was 20 and he had never been married. I knew our relationship wasn't "supposed" to happen. After all, I was 20 years old, attending a Church of Christ college, and I didn't drink, smoke, do drugs, or even cuss (most of the time). He was 32 (29 when I started chasing him), Catholic, smoked, graduated in 1974 (should be enough said on the drugs thing), and knew words that I hadn't even heard of yet. He didn't open car doors, he certainly wasn't chasing after me, and yet I wanted him.....until I couldn't have him, then I wanted someone else until I could have him again. So went my rollercoaster until I graduated from that college and decided to come home. Then he decided to let me have all of his heart on January 14, 1990, and my rollercoaster shifted gears to something much more tolerable.

Fast forward 20 years. I didn't know when I had kids that I would once again be on that vicious rollercoaster with its stomach turning drops and heart pounding loop-de-loos. They forgot to write this part in the "Oh by the way..." section of the How to Raise a House Full of Girls manual. NOBODY TOLD ME I WOULD HAVE TO RIDE IT AGAIN, WITH EACH OF MY KIDS!!!!!

In a weird and twisted deja vue sort of thing, history seems to be repeating itself sort of. The similarities are uncanny, and if I can be grateful for anything, it is that I've been on this particular part of the roller coaster before...in the front seat. My oldest (yes, I'm just getting started back on the crazy ride) has had a fairly calm love life so far. There have been a few interests, but most were pretty short-lived, until this one. This one was different. This one was two kids that just sort of found each other by accident. This one was two kids who though different are alike in lots of ways. This one has been sort of "on" in some form or fashion for almost a year now.

This one has the background of being a country boy, but not just an ordinary country boy. He is a man's man. He knows what it means to work very hard. He has wrestled cattle to the ground as well as all-state linemen. He has picked and eaten black-eyed peas from the garden outside his "in-the-middle-of-nowhere" home. This one loves his mama, and yet he's no panty-waste Mama's Boy. It's been him and her facing the world since he was very little, which at 6'4" is hard to imagine.

He's the grandson of a retired small town Texas sheriff. My daughter is the granddaughter of a soon-to-be-retired small town Texas sheriff. They even did time together in preschool because he actually lived in our hometown when he was 4 years old. Most importantly, I felt like I could trust him with my little girl. He has always been a gentleman in our presence, and my daughter indicated he was a gentleman towards her, yet very much a normal 18 year old male.

Wednesday night, right before Thanksgiving, the roller coaster took a nose dive from a pretty high point. He called my daughter to tell her that after having a nice time with her over the weekend (we went for a college preview day at his college), he just couldn't see himself spending his life with her right now. He did, however, leave the door open for them to "hook back up" once she gets to college since she is planning to attend another school in the same town. It's just that he needs to test drive a few more models before making any decisions. I'm grateful that he's choosing to do this now at 18 instead of 20 years from now when he's approaching 40 and wonders what he could have had. However, they both carried me down that roller coaster drop with them as I held my baby while she cried. Glad she'll allow me to ride with her right now, but geez.....not fun!

After the tears, came the anger, then the crossing of "de Nile" into reality and acceptance. All in all, it has happened pretty quickly. My daughter knows she also needs to do a little more test driving and comparing models and she welcomes the opportunity. After all, when one shops around, one eventually finds something that has all of the most important features in one package. Sometimes shopping around lands you right back at the dealership where you started with the car to which you were first drawn.

Someone somewhere will end up with a couple of really incredible models. They won't come cheap, because one is a Ford F-350 King Ranch package, double cab truck, and the other is a sporty red BMW convertible. As a matter of fact, it will require a lifetime commitment to make the sale for either one. The former is strong, protective, hard-working, loyal, able to pull quite a load, and incredibly good looking. He may decide to play in the mud while out on a test drive, but he will still clean up well. The latter is beautiful, luxurious, sporty, incredibly fun, and made with amazing quality. She's keeping herself out of the hail storms so that she will have that totally new car appeal when it's time to go home with her man, and she will have quite a thrilling ride saved just for him.

Will these two end up in the same garage? Who knows. Impulse buys leave lots of room for regret. Lots of comparison shopping removes most of the doubt, and that takes time. One can never be guaranteed perfection, yet whoever gets these two will have a treasure of great value.

Fasten seat belts folks, the roller coaster is headed for another uphill climb. Ugh...there's the jerk of the cars grabbing ahold of the chain. That can only mean one thing......there's probably a stomach turning drop on the other side. Here we go again!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pappy Moves On

Our lives have been fairly calm and uneventful for awhile now. However, our family will soon encounter one of those bumps in the road that everyone bounces over from time to time. My granddad whom we have always called "Pappy" is letting us know it is time for him to release his hold on this life so he can experience the next. It's not major trauma, but it does bring some sadness and a bit of a rough spot on our life's journey.

As grandchildren go, my brother and I have not exactly been highly attentive in recent years. "Pappy" has spent several years in the local nursing home. We've certainly not visited him enough. There's no escaping that guilt. My brother can legitimately claim the "want to remember him like he was" excuse, and I cling tightly to the busy mom excuse. Nevertheless, we both knew it was time to say our goodbyes.

Andy was there first. I don't know what was going through his mind, but I have a feeling his few alone minutes were spent longing for what once was. You see, he and Pappy spent lots of time together when he was a kid. He was the first grandchild, and he was an all around boy. I truly believe Andy and my cousin Brit were the glue that held Pappy together through the deaths of two wives. Batchin' with a grandpa, huntin', fixin' some dinner, and cleanin' a few birds or rabbits was a young boy's paradise and a grandpa's pathway through grief.

When I arrived at Pappy's bedside, Andy stepped out for a moment to take a phone call, or maybe to give me some space. I love my Pappy very much, and yet my relationship with him is very different. He wasn't the granddad I snuggled with. His wasn't the house I cried to visit. None of that really matters, because I have so many incredible memories of the adventures my cousins and I encountered while in his care. I remember sliding down the wooden staircase on my backside over and over again. I remember him putting sugar on his tomato slices. I remember greasy bacon and runny fried eggs and the crystal salt and pepper shakers that flavored them. I remember Coke floats and cans of Hershey's Chocolate Syrup. I remember a single red rose for my birthday.

I can probably still recite the prayer he said before every meal. The exact words might take a bit to come back to me, but I can hear the inflection of his voice rise and fall as he asked the Almighty to bless our food. Oh, and I can remember a king sized bed that wasn't designed to be a trampoline, and when two energetic girls bounced once to much, he didn't make a fuss. I guess those two bricks stayed under the corner of that bed for years.

As Andy and I left the nursing home where Pappy lay sleeping, I saw the sadness weighing heavy on my brother. A piece of his childhood is slipping away and it is so very painful to watch it go. I drove off knowing that I needed some solitude to think, to question, and to process this experience. I also knew that somehow, I had to be a voice to allow Pappy to say some things that he desperately wanted to say to his family so his next journey could be light and easy. I'm guessing there are many who think this notion is pretty kooky, but then every family has to have one of us so the rest have someone to laugh at.

I began walking around the perimeter of the pasture. I felt pretty sure Pappy's spirit was already moving beyond the boundaries of his physical body. I don't believe God has a magic Spirit Straw that sucks a person's spirit out of their body at the precise moment of death. I think our spirits have opportunities to venture lots of places without our bodies throughout life if we allow the journey to occur. Pappy has been exploring more and more the past few weeks. He was certainly enjoying the cool evening breeze in the pasture as much as I was.

I felt a need to ask Pappy what he wanted to tell his family. His physical body is no longer able to speak to us, yet his spirit still has words and feelings to express. At that moment, I was overwhelmed with emotion for him that I had not previously experienced. There was no audible voice, no misty aparition, and no handwriting in the sky. There was only a flood of thought that engulfed me as I walked and as I cried. He filled me with his feelings and his words. He shared with me that which he wanted his family to know. He told me things that were sources of great sadness and those that have given him tremendous joy. If I had stopped at that moment to write down everything that he sent flooding through me, I would have been there all night. As it is, only the most important points have stuck with me now.

He wants his children to know that he loves them with all his heart, each one as much as the next one and he did the best he knew how to do. He also wants each of his grandchildren to know how special they are to him. To Brit and to Andy, you are his whole world. You have brought him so much pride and joy and you allowed him to be your hero. To Alisa and Angie, you are beautiful young women and he is so very proud of your accomplishments.

Even the longest of physical lives is much too short, and yet those whose paths we cross leave a series of indelible marks along our own journey, painting the roadway with their experiences for us to observe and use as we choose. As Pappy lets go of his physical body, we know in our hearts that his spiritual journey continues on through eternity, and we celebrate the experiences he shared with us along the way as well as those he will continue to share if only we open up to them.

Epilogue: Pappy passed away in the early morning hours of November 5th, 2008. The last thing I would wish for him is to rest in peace. Instead, my wish for him is wonderful spirit companions, beautiful wide open spaces, a body that feels young again, and wildlife surrounding him everywhere. I'm tempted to include a beautiful shotgun and an endless supply of ammunition, but I haven't quite figured out how that would work in the spirit world yet. :-) Enjoy enternity, Pappy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

How Would You Respond?

A friend recently sent me an email forward where a preacher lady was proclaiming a coming famine to the United States. My friend asked me what I thought about the message. After checking the Snopes link in the message and pondering what was presented, I wrote my thoughts and sent them back to her. Then I realized that much of America is struggling with these same fears right now because of the economic doom and gloom being broadcast all over our airwaves. Here's what I said:

We attract what we believe in. If we believe deeply that a great famine is coming, then we will get one. If we believe just as intently that God is a God of abundance, then we will have and live in abundance. I'm going for the latter idea. There are many people in this country who are already living in famine and have been for years. Just as many live in abundance, and no matter how much they are taxed or donate to the poor, the poor stay poor, and the wealthy continue to generate wealth. It is a state of mind. I for one am wealthy beyond anything my parents could have imagined (although I think Dad believes he's pretty wealthy, too). I am sometimes a bit cash strapped, but we have always had a means to acquire what we need and usually what we want.

I have recently been drawn back to nature. Maybe it is mid-life realization that there is more to life than chasing rats in a rat-race. Or, maybe it is God's leading me in a direction that will allow him to provide for my family's needs much easier. I have a strong urge to grow my own food, and generate my own energy to supply my needs in a much smaller house than what I currently occupy. I want to be self sufficient. I believe God is giving me the tools I need to be successful in that area. I think He is showing me His nature through my spending time in nature.

I decided quite a while back that I wasn't going to play the panic card. I don't watch the news much if at all. Weather is about it. I hardly knew we had hurricanes coming earlier. While I don't intend to bury my head in the sand, I also choose not to worry about or stress over those things I cannot control. I am much happier that way.

I enjoy being challenged about what I think and believe. The older I get, the less solid some of my beliefs become. If anything, I'm solidly shiftable at this point. I realize that I don't know everything, and I am just now at a point in my life where I can hear God lead me and guide me. In other words, I am just now becoming teachable.

Where are you? If someone presents you with an idea that challenges your belief system, how do you respond? What do you believe about the future of America? Are you a future-builder or a doomsday predictor?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The One You Feed Wins

This is an email forward I received from a dear friend. It is so in line with the point of my blog that I feel it should be included. Thanks for the gift, Randy.

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, 'My son, the battle is between two 'wolves' inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.'

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: 'Which wolf wins?'

The old Cherokee simply replied, 'The one you feed.'

Monday, October 6, 2008

More Revelations

Yesterday was simply amazing. After a 4+ week hiatus from attending any church service of any kind, I decided it was time to go back. After all, the guy with the South African accent, John Sheasby, was supposed to be at church, and he's always got something off the wall to say. I decided it was time for a return, and I was not disappointed.

I went expecting. Actually I had directed God to let his message be a sign for me that would give me some piece of confirmation, information, direction, or whatever as to what is going on in my head and with my desires. Let me repeat, I wasn't disappointed.

I don't usually remember the details of his messages. I just absorb them into my soul. His interpretations of the scriptures, which are so fresh and different from ANYTHING with which I grew up, stick with me and resurface when I need them.

I do remember last night's service, though. He began talking about sowing seed and how the farmer doesn't DO anything to make the seed grow. It either grows or it doesn't, all by itself. No elaborate plan or scheme to help the seed get out of the ground as a plant. From that, we made our way to the story of Jesus calming the storm, but he didn't follow the usual preacher path into how if we trust Jesus he will calm all our life's storms. He said (I'm paraphrasing into redneck) that if the know-it-all fisherman boys would have ASKED Jesus how he wished to get to the other side instead of ASS-U-ME-ing Jesus intended to cross in a boat, then maybe they would have ALL walked on water and there wouldn't have been a boat on the sea in a storm with all the fear and nausea that entails.

Then he mentioned Abraham's boat. What??? Abraham didn't have a boat! Yeah...he did. He and Sarah didn't believe God was capable of giving them the promised son, so they "built a boat" of sorts when Sarah offered and Abraham agreed to "plant that seed" in Hagar. That boat was essentially a shipwreck waiting to happen, and only after it wrecked did Abraham agree to trust God and walk on water.

I was pretty excited. I got the message loud and clear. I knew I had used the walking on water metaphor as part of my recurring dream interpretation. (And by the way, I have not had that dream since discovering its meaning.) I also realized that I have been as nervous as a cat in a dog pound as to what I will do to continue to provide a secure future for my family. I have been searching for boats (forget building one--I was willing to get a ready made). Yet God had plainly told me that I was about to walk on water--or something less wet, but just as capable of swalling me and suffocating me. After all, this IS West Texas, and there isn't much water to walk on.

I left the meeting in awe of HIS power and mine. I came home and told my husband that I knew God had been pushing me out of my comfort zone for some time. He's been preparing me to walk away. He has told me this year will be my last year in my current position. Last night He told me that I don't need to worry about how it will happen. When the time is right, He will reveal the water and together we will walk across to the other side. Quite honestly, that's exactly how every job I've ever had has come my way. I have never had to go after a job. My current job was created specifically with me in mind. It didn't exist before me. Other jobs have come when I wasn't looking or when I was looking in a different direction.

Last night, I had a slightly different dream. My bed was back on the edge of the cesspool/sinkhole thingy, but this time the old barn that covers the hole was partially torn down. Once again I had to arouse myself enough to remind myself that God had promised this would not cave in. Every step I took in that dream was ever so cautious. Over and over I reminded myself that He said it will not cave in. Together, we were tearing down that old barn that had surrounded the cesspool. Parts are still standing, but much is now gone from the original structure that was in my previous dream. Everywhere the structure had been removed, my faith in the solidness of where I was standing grew stronger.

When I awoke this morning, I asked for the meaning of the "tearing down" part. What He revealed to me was, "I am tearing down what makes this appear to be shaky ground."

Interestingly enough, my husband and I have just completed the demolition and removal of an old leaning garage off of a piece of property God has recently given to us. The walls are down, the trash is pretty much gone, and a solid piece of concrete is all that remains. I wonder what the connection might be? I bet He will tell me at the perfect time.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

A Message to Boys Who Date My Daughter

I've been blessed. My oldest daughter postponed the boy thing longer than some do. The upside to that is the emotional roller coaster hasn't had quite as many stomach turning drops so far. The downside is that in a few months, she will be out on her own and I will be lucky (or not so much) if I am allowed to be witness to any more of it.

There are all kinds of books on marriage and relationships, but I don't know if there is anything that explains to a young man how to get and keep the attention of my girl. You see, she's special. She's been given some amazing gifts in her life, and such a treasure needs a special kind of guy. Most guys won't be able to deal with her special gifts, but the few who can will be blessed beyond belief.

Gift #1: She's a good friend to guys. She may be madly in love with you, but she's still going to need guy friends. You need to be one of them, and you need to be okay with her having other guy friends. Neither she nor I enjoy the company of other females all that much. We create enough drama all by ourselves, and having a bunch of other females in the mix makes things too irritating. Don't be jealous. Treat her well enough that you don't have to worry about being jealous. Because....

Gift #2: She's very loyal. If you choose to be exclusively hers, she will be yours and totally yours. It runs in the family. Her daddy and her uncles are extremely loyal to their spouses. I call them the golden retrievers. They are so good to their women. It's not a weird possessive sort of thing. It's a healthy, sweet, trusting, nurturing sort of thing. But even a golden retriever needs some attention. My girl doesn't require an extraordinary amount of attention, but she needs to be reminded that you care, and she needs to be reminded more than once a month. It doesn't take much: a text message, a phone call, a note on Facebook. The problem comes when she doesn't hear from you for several days. She gets nervous and thinks you've dropped her and didn't have the guts to tell her. Then she gets miserable, but she's still obligated to be loyal. Oh, and when she's miserable, the rest of us are miserable, too. Keep the misery to a minimun. Remind her often that you are still interested in her. If you like her, let her know. Don't set her free if you still want her. That causes lots of confusion and hard feelings when none were intended. Do what you need to do to let her know she is special to you.

Gift #3: She has a compassionate healing spirit. People are attracted to her because they need her healing qualities. She's gone through the trauma of death with several of her friends, both guys and girls. She has seen friends through the deaths of parents (three times), siblings (once), and grandparents (twice). She was 11 years old the first time she had the opportunity to support a close friend through such a trying time. She has an amazing ability to be there for them through all the weirdness they have to endure when a loved one dies, and she converses and supports them while they grieve. She doesn't get to choose whether it is a guy or a girl who needs her, so you have to have enough faith in your relationship with her to give her the space to do what she needs to do without being jealous.

Gift #4: She is fairly patient when it comes to guys. Some girls are very needy and in a hurry. They are boy crazy from an early age and desperately need someone to love them. Not my girl. She makes friends easily with guys. She appreciates a really awesome guy, but she isn't desperate. She is saving herself for the right one. She has a special gift that only one guy can be given. Most of her friends have already given their gift away to someone who may or may not be their life partner. Not my girl. She is holding on to the special gift a little longer, waiting for the one who will travel with her through life. I am trusting that she will find someone who has a similar special gift to share with her. It's not easy these days to hold on to that gift, but it is so worth it.

Gift #5: She is so amazingly smart and talented. No need to run off ALL the time with the guys. If you want to play football, she's not afraid to play. If you rope, she'll ask you to teach her how to rope. If you play in a band, she's got an amazing voice and will enjoy being a part of your hobbies. If you do something she can't do, she will be your fanclub and cheerleader standing on the sidelines. In return, show her that you value those things she enjoys. Know what her volleyball schedule is and call her after a game to see how they did. Know what her role is in the One Act Play and show up to a performance, or at least call before the performance to tell her "break a leg!"

Gift #6: She has amazing self confidence. It can be somewhat intimidating. We have raised her that she can do anything she sets her mind to do. She needs a young man who is equally confident. She doesn't need someone who is arrogant, but she needs you to be secure in yourself. She doesn't need someone who doesn't feel they are worthy of her. If she is giving you her time and attention, you are worthy. If that changes, she will let you know. She's straight up, so don't degrade yourself by saying she's too good for you. She will let you know if that's the case.

There are so many more gifts wrapped up in this amazing young woman. Her dad and I are so proud to be her parents. If you choose to be a part of her life, even for a short time, you will be forever changed. She will leave a part of herself with you that will help set the standard for the qualities you seek in the person with whom you eventually choose to spend your life. While you are a part of my girl's life, enjoy the ride, be the best man you can be, love her tenderly (but keep it clothed!), and should you decide she is the one and only girl for you, remember it is a lifetime commitment.

Lessons from Laryngitis

This is one of the longest bouts of laryngitis I have ever had. It has been four full days and I have that feeling in my throat this morning that suggests day five is in the works. Strangely enough, I'm okay with it, because it has given me so much more time to listen. There are some very deep life lessons to be learned when a person who is a talker has some forced listening time.
I have a neat little book by Louise Hay called Heal Your Body. It lists a number of physical ailments and the negative thought processes that MAY contribute to a person acquiring that condition. When I looked up laryngitis and the related symptoms, it indicates, "...so mad you can't speak...fear of speaking up...resentment of authority."

I am not convinced that my temporary condition is the result of being mad. I have, however, always had a fear of speaking to authority figures, and along with that, possibly some resentment of those who would attempt to exercise their authority over me. I don't like being told "NO." You may have even noticed in a previous post that my ideal work situation eliminates most authority people from my life. I also don't like to be told something won't work, especially when the person hearing me hasn't read or studied the subject matter at all.

I have always chosen to question authority. "...because I said so," has never been a sufficient answer for me. My parents figured out early on that telling me I couldn't do something was an open invitation for me to find a way to do it anyway. In many ways that has served me well. In others, it has resulted in pain, usually initiated by someone whom I had granted authority over me. I say "granted" because I now realize that I am the only being who has authority over me. My choices in life (religious affiliation, employment, hobbies, kids activities) occasionally hand that authority over to others, voluntarily, of course.

The last time I had laryngitis this significant, it was a recurring cycle. I had just begun to work for a man whom I thought would listen and work with me. I very quickly found out that listening or even hearing ME was not within his ability when it conflicted with his ideas. He also proved to be a man who would tell me one thing, then change his mind and indicate he never said it in the first place. I revisited the laryngitis symptoms 5 times in as many months that year.

As for my current physical symptoms, I think they are the result of an accumulation of thoughts and attitudes that I am beginning to recognize. My frustration with my current employment situation is due in part to the fact that I am held responsible for many things, and yet I feel as though I have limited power to make anything happen. It makes me wonder if in fact my power is limited by the authority figures, or if I am limiting myself because of my unwillingness to speak to authority figures with courage, confidence and power.

Recognizing the power I do possess is a strong first step. I am also learning that I can control the process and outcomes of my encounters with authority by planning them out ahead of time and making known to God what I expect as a response. I am extremely valuable to those people and while I realize I am not irreplaceable, I also realize that it would be extremely difficult for someone to step into my shoes and pick up what I leave behind.

No matter what career path I choose to travel, there will always be people along that path to whom I grant some level of authority over me, even if I am self-employed. In the future, I can relax when in the presence of authority figures knowing that I ultimately hold the power and I direct the outcomes of any encounter. I will approach them with confidence and know I will be heard and my input honored and acted upon.

Laryngitis, the lesson has been learned. It is time for you to go back where you came from. Quoting from Louise Hay's little book, "I am free to ask for what I want. I am safe to express myself. I am at peace."

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

What To Do?

You have probably gathered from my previous posts that I am at a point where a career change would be welcome. Don't get me wrong. I have a very good job and I work with terrific people. However, I have a wandering spirit that occasionally needs to feed from a different trough for awhile.

I've been reading materials for a few years now on having a positive mindset, putting my goals out there, and having a vision for what I want. I know this works. I've watched it happen over and over in my life. I've had two very strong experiences within this past month. The downside to this whole positive mindset thing is that most of these people seem to be implying that I might have to do some work or step out of my comfort zone to manifest my first million. Darn! I really would prefer that it show up on my doorstep or that the dog drags up a package with my name and address on it containing that first million. And yet, if I must actually work for my million, I certainly would prefer that my work feel like play.

I asked myself what that would look like. It seems I have had a challenge when it comes to pinpointing what I want to be when I grow up this time. (And no, that's not a reincarnation statement. I thought I grew up 10 years ago, but apparently I am still growing.)

So what will it be? I have created a list of characteristics of my ideal way to spend my days earning money.

1. I set the dress code. Jeans and a t-shirt are very appropriate, however, there are occasional times when dressing up is a nice thing to do.

2. I can come and go as I please. No one will be watching over me to make sure I didn't skip out on five minutes of work.

3. I am not irreplaceable, and yet, I get to decide if and when I wish to be replaced either temporarily or permanently.

4. The government doesn't dictate, mandate, or negotiate much if anything related to what I do.

5. I can take as much or as little time as I want to be with my husband and/or kids, to travel, to read, to continue learning new things, etc.

6. I get to see people when I choose to see people, and yet, it isn't a requirement of the workday.

7. I am not responsible for the accomplishments and behaviors of anyone else.

8. I am invited to share what I do with others through presentations and conferences, much of which is paid for with magic money that I don't have to produce.

9. I get to spend a large part of my time working on projects with my husband.

10. I can be outside when it is nice and indoors when it is environmentally less than ideal.

11. My income far exceeds what I am currently taking in.

12. My kids think my career is way cool and I do, too.

13. My career involves agriculture and nature working in harmony.

14. My career includes promoting alternative health, wellness, and self-improvement.

Do you have any suggestions about what this career might be called?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Eternal Beings

Here's something to generate some controversy. Think very carefully about what you say before you post a response. No religious-induced knee-jerk reactions allowed.

1. Quantum physics says that when we get to the smallest particles, everything is vibration and energy.

2. Most Christians have a belief that they are eternal beings, ie. after we pass on, we will live forever either in paradise or torment of some kind.

3. Jesus, who is our spiritual brother, and whose Father we've been made in the image of (great grammar), was supposedly an eternal spirit before he was flesh.

Here's the kicker:
If we are made in the image of God, if Jesus is our brother, if the basic building blocks of everything can be neither created nor destroyed, is it possible that we, too existed in spirit form before coming to earth to live in human flesh? Do we choose to live as humans from time to time? Do we choose into which family we will be born?

Remember that Adam's body was created from the dust of the earth and God breathed into him the breath of life. What was that breath? Could it have been God sending forth an already existing spirit being into a fleshly host?

Yes, I know what I am suggesting in that question. Throw out all prejudices and fears about other world religions and just think about the possibilities for a moment. Does God create a new spirit being everytime a sperm and egg come together, or is it possible those spirit beings already exist and choose as Jesus did to come back to earth, live in a human body for a time, and grow spiritually more mature as a result of the lessons in which they participate while human?

It really doesn't matter, and yet by thinking about these types of possibilities, we exercise and expand our sometimes narrow-minded views of this awe-inspiring entity we call God and Father. We say we believe that God has amazing power, and yet, even though we were promised we would do things just as amazing, most of us refuse to claim that power. Those who do claim that power are assigned labels like "went off the deep end", "is into that New Age stuff", " is lost", "charismatic", "weirdo", etc.

It's kind of like lobsters in a bucket. When one begins to reach for something better, higher, greater, the rest who don't have a vision of the amazing light at the top grab the ankles of the climbers and attempt to pull them back down to the "dark reality" of the bucket bottom. As long as we're all lobsters in the same bucket, everyone is ignorantly happy.

As individuals seek out and claim their promised eternal greatness and power, they become a threat to the leadership of status quo. If all the lobsters start climbing out of the bucket, no one remains to pay for the pet projects of the leadership. I for one choose to claim my promise and put it to use.

Are those who call themselves "The Church" climbers or ankle biters?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Solid Ground--Interpreting Dreams

I have had a recurring dream for months....possibly years. It's very stressful and interferes with my sleep. In this dream I am in bed, but my bed is perched precariously on top of something that I've been told will cave in if I stand on it. It might be an old basement, cesspool, or something else akin to a sinkhole that could collapse at any moment. There's another dream where my bed is under a rickety ceiling fan that is flying at top speed and threatens to fly off right on top of me.

Last night, I managed to awaken myself, get out of bed, get my bearings and realize that I was safe and always have been. I crawled back in bed, fell asleep, and promptly began having the dream again. This time I kept consciously pulling myself back to the notion that I was at home safe on solid ground in my nice cozy bed.

The aha moment came this morning in the shower when I finally connected with the meaning of my dream. There are so many things I want to do in my life. I want my life to be full of fun doing things that bring joy and purpose to me. My current situation used to bring me lots of joy and purpose, and going to work was fun.

Unfortunately my energy has shifted so that it seems more like a sick game I play. It has become a series of mundane and frustrating tasks that must be performed to keep so-called
authorities at bay and protect "us" from being "dinged" or "tagged" as low-performing. It is a task that requires me to attempt to control other people in ways they do not want to be controlled. I am making a conscious effort to be grateful and see the positives of my role, and yet if find myself desperately searching for an escape.

And now back to the dreams...I have ideas about what I'd like to do. I have a vision for something I believe would rekindle my sense of fun work. There are many signs that suggest I should step out in faith and follow my passion, and yet, there are many people who suggest that doing so would be foolish and unsafe. They suggest stepping out would be akin to stepping on that cesspool/sinkhole. It would bury me, my family, and my dreams.

Yet in every one of my dreams, the bed never gets swallowed up. The rickety fan never falls on top of me. The world doesn't come to an end because I stepped on the supposed sinkhole, and even slept on it with heavy furniture. I just do so with a panicky nervous agitation, afraid that at any moment all will collapse and swallow me up. But it won't.

I realize that I am an eternal being. I have a Father who wants me to be happy and full of joy. He allows me to ask and it will be given. He does not want me to feel frustrated and agitated all the time. He has given me the opportunity to fulfill many purposes in my life and to learn many lessons. He showed me that my brothers can walk on water. One of them, Peter, got nervous and started to go under, but Big Brother was there to strengthen his faith and together they walked to the shoreline. If they can walk on water, then I can step out on what appears to be a sinkhole and trust that I am on solid ground, because I will be holding my Father's hand...even if everyone else says I'm going to sink.

"And I've got a peaceful, easy feelin', and I know You won't let me down, 'cause I'm already standin' on solid ground."

Thursday, September 11, 2008


I learned this weekend that vision is 4% eyes and 96% brain and other resources. Wow. If that's the case, why do I spend so much money on glasses to correct my eyes? Maybe I should spend my money on a psychologist or educational kinesiologist working on my brain?

And so I did. A good friend and I went to Albuquerque, NM to spend time under the guidance of an educational kinesiologist for 3 days. We had a blast. The people who came together for the weekend were very supportive in working with each other to achieve both physical vision and inner vision.

Could there really be a connection between the lack of clarity in my vision, and the lack of clarity for my destiny? Could my need for artificial correction to achieve distance vision clarity be related to a desperate need to know every last detail about what the future holds before I can move forward in life with confidence? Wow that was a mouthful.

I watched my third daughter drastically improve her reading skills by looking at colored light daily for most of 4 months in order to build new neural pathways in the brain. Her personality blossomed, her test scores jumped dramatically, and her stress level dropped radically. Yes, some correction was and remains necessary, and yet, she does not need the strong correction with which she was originally fitted.

What makes some people embrace alternative methods while others cling to modern medicine? Why do some scoff at the idea that movement and pressure points might be a cure for visual stress? Maybe it's a lack of "vision".